Monday, April 30, 2007

Ribosomes & Alexandria Jones

Our two fun things for today were the Alexandria Jones adventure and ribosomes, in that order. Most of our normal school stuff was forgotten because Catherine was playing a game called Dinosaur Adventure 3D on her computer all morning. Too much fun for me to interupt. The bit of time left before lunch was taken up with grammar.

On to Alexandria Jones and, as I had guessed, Catherine loves it. She enjoyed the story and really loved the puzzle game. Especially since she beat me every damn time we played. See, she and my husband can see more than one or two steps ahead when playing a strategy game. I can barely manage to think beyond the current move. It's why, in all the games of Risk I've played with my husband, I've only won once.

The ribosomes were fun. We went with ribosomes because we weren't sure what the nucleolus did when we were looking at the nucleus. It seems it produces parts of ribosomes. Those parts, 60-S and 40-S (50-S and 30-S in prokaryotic cells) go out into the cell and join up with mRNA and then tRNA and amino acids to form amino acid chains. I'm sort of clear on it but I suspect Catherine's further along. Most explanations just explain what happens. Me, I need a metaphor or image that I can picture. Don't just tell me the cell membrane is selectively permeable. Continue by saying, "like skin or a screen door." Then, aha! I get it. Fortunately the Children's Museum of Indianapolis came through for me and has a list of cell organelles and lively metaphors for their individual functions.

I sort of think we're going just a wee bit too indepth for a grade 3 look at cells but honestly, I'm having a ball and Catherine's thinks this is all terribly interesting.

NOTE: Please correct any mistakes I make regarding the functions of the organelles and feel free to share great links related to cells!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Adventure Math with Alexandria Jones

Denise at Let's Play Math! is bringing back a newsletter she once ran.

The newsletter followed the adventures of homeschooler Alexandria Jones, her archaeologist father, and the rest of their family as they discovered a triangular treasure from ancient Egypt, puzzled over patterns in Pythagorean pebbles, or explored the applications of math in daily life. We learned about hieroglyphic math, fractals and chaos theory, logarithms, geometric algebra, and how to multiply any numbers using only the times-two table.

Denise has already got the first installment out and I can't wait to try it out with Catherine on Monday. She's getting bored with math worksheets and loves puzzles as well as anything that can be remotely linked to Ancient Egypt. This looks like something that will be really fun to follow.

BTW Denise, if you ever collect the adventures into a book I know a certain homeschooling mom/aspiring comic book artist who would LOVE to do the illustrations. :D

Evolution Mom Responds

Pissed Off Housewife has a post featuring a video of a self-centered, materialistic tart. What it's about isn't important except to know that the girl is preggers and damn snotty about it.

Anyhow, POH says;
Seriously, people will do anything to be on the right side of the camera. And (evolution Mom) I find it hard to believe that Darwin knows shit from shinola if girls like this have ovum.

Apparently I'm Evolution Mom since the name links to me (which is cool, no?).

Anyway, Darwin would be cool with this. That delightful young lady lives in an environment where what works when it comes to winning the reproductive lottery is simply, as she so charmingly says, "being a player,", otherwise known as "an easy piece of ass." Natural Selection isn't about producing the best, it's about what works. And sadly, her strategy works.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Cell Structure

From the huge world of taxonomy we went to the tiny world of cells. Today we read a page from Rader's Biology 4 Kids on cells. From there we went to Cells Alive! to watch the neatest animation that zooms in on the head of a pin, down to hair, to dust mites, to pollen, to blood cells and finally to the rhinovirus so you can get a bit of a sense just how small these things are.

On to BrainPop where we watched videos on cells, DNA and RNA and then took their quizes. I didn't intend to cover anything on DNA or RNA today but Catherine was curious. It came in handy anyway when we came up with our project.

I tacked a big piece of kraft paper to one of the few free spaces on my living room wall and drew a big circle. I labeled the circle, "Cell Membrane" and the whole sheet was labeled "Animal Cell". Then there was some discussion. Because it was an animal cell it wouldn't have a cell wall and because it was a Eukayotic cell it would have to have a nucleus. Off to the kitchen where we visited Rader's Biology 4 Kids again to find a page on the nucleus. We read that then took out some paper and Catherine drew a nucleus. She also drew a nucleolus and chromation and decided she'd draw RNA and DNA to represent what was in the chromation (nuclear proteins didn't make the cut). All the bits got labeled, the whole picture got cut out and we taped it on to our kraft paper cell.

We got to talking about the cell membrane after and decided that Rader's had made a bit of a bad comparison when it said the membrane was like a plastic bag. A plastic bag doesn't allow things to move into or out of it. So we decided skin was a much better analogy.

We'll come back to it over the next week and add organelles as we learn more about them. I have to admit I'm having as much fun as Catherine with this because when we covered this in high school I don't think I got a good idea of what each part of a cell really did in relation to the whole.

Supported by Science?

Over at HE&OS Daryl has posted an excerpt and link to an article on homeschooling from Chemical & Engineering News. The article he quotes is here and what a relief it is to read.

The article is not about the dangers of homeschooling, not about the creatonism and fundamental christianity that's supposedly rampant in the homeschooling community. It's about developing secular science curriculum for homeschoolers who need and want it. It's not a slap, it's an embrace. And it feels so good.

It's not uncommon to find that people in science are suspicious of homeschooling or have negative views. Greg Laden got a bunch of us annoyed with a post ages ago that seemed to label us all fundie creationists. Thankfully he's a curious and respectful guy and let the discussion continue. But he's not the only one with that impression and many seem content to let that impression shape their view of homeschooling in general so that they would be happy to see it deemed illeagal.

But the homeschooling isn't the issue. Homeschooling acts like a feint to draw critics. The critics see the homeschooling banner, rush it with swords drawn and the creationists simply creep past while people who should be natural allies of those critics, like secular or religious liberals, take up arms to beat them off.

The real issue is what is taught. The real issue is how a certain brand of christianity has monopolized homeschooling curriculum to the point where often the best those of us who aren't creationists can hope for is something that excludes mention of creationism as well as evolution. Something that mentions God but omits the scripture quotes.

(My conspiracy-minded self sees a huge resevoir of fundamentalist christian curriculum being built up at the same time as attacks are being launched on public schools in the name of religion. I sometimes wonder if homeschooling isn't simply a wedge for bringing religion back to public schools much like ID is a wedge for creationism)

Thankfully, there's the Chemical & Engineering News. Instead of condemning homeschooling they embrace it and work to keep us informed of what's being done to help us in our journey to raise kids with a firm grasp and love of science. They recognize we're out there on the front lines and support us. And we really are on the front lines. We're the ones countering the creationist views of other homeschoolers in homeschooling circles, speaking out against the HSLDA, building networks for those who don't support creationism, boycotting certain blogs and trying to offer up advice and alternatives so other parents don't have to compromise with their science texts. Sacrifice us and a whole front has been given up to those who would like to see science simply fade away.

So thank you Chemical & Engineering News and here's hoping more people in the scientific community will reach a hand out to us in the future.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


The Carnival of homeschooling is at Spiritbee's

The Carnival of Education is over here.

Nevermind the Last Post.

So forget what I said about going back to Singapore Math. Nevermind. Catherine just doesn't like it right now. So up it goes onto a high and dark shelf and on we go to the next Math Mammoth book.

See, now if I were an 8 year old I would look at the 5 questions a page in Singapore, compare it to the 20 to 50 questions a page in Math Mammoth and declare Singapore the winner. Not so with my kid. She likes the simple layout, the loads of equations, the progression from one thing to the next of the Mammoth Books.

Good thing the Singapore books were only $20 or so.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Schooly Stuff and Other Stuff

I guess I should write a post related to our homeschooling. Here goes...

We finished the Math Mammoth Addition & Subtraction 2A book and went back to Primary Math 3A on Friday. What a difference. Where Catherine had no idea where to go with it 6 weeks ago she now has no trouble. We'll stick with it for awile and see how she does.

Grammar is really where I thought she might have difficulties. Not at all. We're into review on prepositions in Easy Grammar 34 and it can't be over soon enough for her simply because she finds it too easy. When I stumbled over what to do in one question she stepped in, corrected me and went on to finish. Smart kid.

This was on Friday. I had some plans for biology saturday, exploring food chains and webs and relationships between organisms but it was too nice a day and I ended up pushing wheelbarrow loads of gravel down to the end of a driveway we share with a neighbour to fill in potholes. The kids helped cart down some garbage and much of the day was spent going in and out of the house. In the house I fixed internet problems. Outside I hung laundry.

Today we have to do the churchy stuff. I shouldn't have written 'have' actually. It doesn't feel like a 'have' kind of thing. I really am enjoying church. My childhood memories of stuffy services you couldn't wait to get out of haven't reflected what I'm experiencing now. My local church is an informal place where laughter while receiving communion is something people join in rather then frown on and sermons are interesting talks where real questions are asked and thought is demanded. The singing is great too. Catherine is still enjoying Sunday school as well, even if she's a little miffed that they don't acknowledge that the Greek Gods are real.

Evolved Homeschooling Stuff

One last update since all the details are now ironed out.

Here's our Evolved Homeschooler Stuff Store. You'll find 'Evolved homeschooler' fish on shirt, bags, mug and doggy wear (I couldn't resist). Announce to all who see you that there are a good many homeschoolers who accept that evolution is a scientific fact. And like to wear footed fish on their chests.

All proceeds go directly to St. Jude's Children's Research hospital and I do mean directly. As soon as I get the proper information from St. Jude's I'll be setting up the store account so profits are mailed straight to the hospital. Any other setup would be a little awkward and prone to my brand of procrastination.

A reminder of the good that St. Jude's does (from my previous post on the matter)...

They treat children with pediatric cancers and catastrophic diseases and it's, "where no one pays for treatment beyond what is covered by insurance, and those without insurance are never asked to pay." Funds donated help kids get treatment and also helps support research that will aid kids all over.

Buy the footed fishes everyone!

A special thanks (again) to the guys at the MaximumPC forums for the design, the work behind the design and the suggestion of St. Jude's. Computer geeks are special people.

All Praise the Geek Woman.

Our internet connection has been horribly slow the past few days. Pages took forever to appear if they appeared at all and my P2P habit was cruely crippled. My Opera was marginally better then my husband's IE7 (you all know who the geek in our family is just by that, right?) but only marginally.

I did spyware scans (I run three different spyware programs) and checked my virus scan results (AVG runs a nightly scan) and nothing appeared. I power-cycled the modem and router and restarted the computer more times in two days then in the last 6 months. I googled the hell out of "slow browser" and went through dozens of forum 'help' posts. I fiddled with the registry. I cried.

Then just an hour ago I googled one last time. I found a little forum post describing a very similar problem and read the reccomendations. Even though I was sure it wasn't going to make a damn bit of difference I downloaded a program that was reccomended called Crap Cleaner and ran it.

Praise the Lord! My freakin' browsers work! They load faster then they have in a very long time. It's just brilliant.

Anyway, I highly reccomend the program for anyone who's experiencing slow browsing. Also, my computer is running like lightning in general now (as a Semron 3400+ damn well should) so if your computer is running slow and you've done all the spyware scans it's well worth checking out. CCleaner will clean your registry, crap from 3rd party apps, temp. internet files and probably the dust bunnies in your cooling fans.

Best thing? It's free!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

How About This?

St. Jude's Childrens Research Hospital is in Memphis, Tennesee. They treat children with pediatric cancers and catastrophic diseases and it's, "where no one pays for treatment beyond what is covered by insurance, and those without insurance are never asked to pay." Funds donated help kids get treatment and also helps support research that will aid kids all over.

Sounds like a great institution to send Evolved Homeschooler Stuff profits to.

And again, another way of helping fight disease is to Fold@Home

What is protein folding and how is folding linked to disease? Proteins are biology's workhorses -- its "nanomachines." Before proteins can carry out these important functions, they assemble themselves, or "fold." The process of protein folding, while critical and fundamental to virtually all of biology, in many ways remains a mystery.

Moreover, when proteins do not fold correctly (i.e. "misfold"), there can be serious consequences, including many well known diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, Huntington's, Parkinson's disease, and many Cancers and cancer-related syndromes.

You can help by simply running a piece of software. Folding@Home is a distributed computing project -- people from through out the world download and run software to band together to make one of the largest supercomputers in the world. Every computer makes the project closer to our goals.

Folding@Home uses novel computational methods coupled to distributed computing, to simulate problems thousands to millions of times more challenging than previously achieved.

Basically you run a little program that's always on and uses a fraction of your CPU's resources. The only thing you need is an internet connection so the program can send results and get new projects. If anyone is interested or needs help just let me know.

A Question on Blogging Ettiquette.

I wrote a couple of silly responses to a blog post yesterday. In the original blog I was responding too I left a comment with links in it so the author could check out my responses if she choose to. The author didn't like this and let me know. Her position was that if she choose to link to me, she would do it herself. With hindsight I realize that I could have let her know about the responses, not linked to them, and she could have simply clicked on my blogger profile to see where my response was.

So I'm wondering if I breached a commonly held bit of blog ettitquette?

In past experience if I've responded to something I've included a link in a comment to let the original blogger know about it. I considered that a courtesy. I know I've had responses to my posts, particularily the comic book ones, that I didn't find out about until I checked my sitemeter account or stumbled on them in another manner.

On the other hand it sure might seem intrusive to have someone linking to their own posts in someone else's comments section. A bit spammy really.

I believe every blogger has the right to run their blog as they see fit and I appreciate that the author of the other site made it clear how she felt on the issue. In the future I'll probably keep her objection in mind when commenting on other blogs. My position with my blogs is that I don't mind links in the comments(appreciate them actually - unless you're selling something) but what about in general?

I'm curious to hear other people's thoughts on the issue.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Want to label yourself an Evolved Homeschooler?

So Chris let me know some people wanted to buy some stuff with the 'Evolved Homeschooler' logo on it and asked me if I wanted to set the shop up since it was my logo. Well, I'm not sure it is since I stole the name from Chris, filched the darwin fish and then let Satchboy make the logo with Spider Monkey's design idea. Regardless, I consulted with my design team (the aforementioned Satchboy and Spider Monkey - they're MY geeks, you can't have them) and it was agreed the logo would be released onto T-shirts and teddy bears with the stipulation that any profits would go to charity (TBD).

Here's our store...Evolved Homeschooler Stuff

EDIT: It's to be a kids cancer charity. A lot of people over at the MaxPC forum have been touched by cancer and/or are Folding@home (feel free to get involved if you're not already folding!) so scientists can understand certain processes that lead to diseases including cancer. A kids charity because of the products are for homeschoolers.

I'm looking at different charities right now but if anyone has any suggestions or has been involved with a particular charity we could send donations to, please let me know.

A Response. Part, the Second.

To gift Pissed Off Houswife with another link here's the post I just commented on in my last post. Except this time it's worth scrolling down to the comments section for this nugget...

How many parents honestly have a good idea about titrations, oxidative phosphorylation, Cartesian philosophy, or building birdhouses?

My answer? Probably not a lot. But it's easily remedied with a few hot and heavy moments of Googling.

Titrations The most basic explanation is that it's a controlled drip. Something like a Fox News anchor but in liquid form.

Oxidative Phosphorylation This one is tougher but I am confident that, as shown in this animation, it has something to do with electrical outlets, funnels and bellows.

I'll probably get a clearer picture when we cover celluar respiration in a few years.

Cartesian philosophy Refering to Descartes and his crazy thinking. You all remember your grade 11 philosophy class (I mean we ALL studied philosophy in high school, RIGHT? It was third period, just after quantum physics) where you were joyfully submerged in Pythagoras' divine numbers, Platonic Dualism, Aristotles' idea of causality and such? Take them all, mix them in a shot glass, chug it down and the cute little burp that comes out after is Cartesian Philosophy.

Building Birdhouses?

Oh. Like this one?

They come in kits now. Any 8 year old can do it these days. In fact an 8 year old did THIS one. While telling a 33 year old to bugger off.

"I can do it Mom."

"Stop hovering Mom."

"Go AWAY Mom."

Pffft. See if I make YOU any brownies kid.

Anyway, the point? The point...Oh. The point is that while many parents might not have a good idea about titrations, oxidative phosphorylation, Cartesian philosophy, or building birdhouses they certainly could have a good idea with a little effort and interest. See how fast I picked up on the key role household electrical outlets play in oxidative phosphorylation?

I respect the fact that most parents don't want to homeschool their kids. I don't respect arguments that seem to imply most parents aren't smart enough or curious enough to homeschool. Parenting period demands those things.

Now, excuse me but that oxidative phosphorylation thing has piqued my interest. I think I'll pass the kids a couple of funnels, a fork and sit them in front of an outlet. Instant learning experience!

A Response. Part, the first.

When do you find time to be alone, to go on a date or to they gym? How do you achieve balance for your adult life? I'm hopeful that you have an adult part of your life.

Pissed Off Housewife asks this question over at her blog.

My answer? When we go out we arrange for a babysitter to look after the children. I thought this was what most parents do. Have I been wrong all this time?

Maybe there are things about sending kids to school I never knew of. Perhaps they make schools available after hours so parents can drop off the kids before heading in for dinner and a movie? Maybe the teachers are all on call for emergency childcare? Maybe...Oh, I hope this isn't it...The schools install 'off' switches in the kids that school parents can simply flip at their convenience for a night off?

Dear God.

Not off switches.

A plea to any school parents out there. Please just call a sitter. Please! You'll know them either by their pimples, pronounced slouch and Babysitting course certificates or their grey hair and the propensity for your children to call them 'Nanny' or 'Papa'.

Please, resist the temptation to use the off switches. Oh lord, the poor children. Think of the children.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Science Part 3

I'm done whining about a lack of science curriculum for secular homeschoolers. Who needs it when there are sites like Rader's Biology 4 Kids? Seriously, why would I want a text and workbook when I've got a website?

We sat down and read a bit more from the site today. We went over Taxonomy and the different Kingdoms. It was flippin' fantastic. When we got to a part that mentioned cilia I simply opened a new tab and googled 'paramecium video' and got a slew of little paramecium videos to look at. Catherine watched the little things beat their cilia as they moved around. What textbook could do that?

When we were done with the Biology 4 Kids pages we visited Brainpop. It requires a subscription but it's got some great little animated shorts and we watched a couple on the 6 kingdoms. It confused Catherine a little bit because we'd just left a site that refered to the 4 kingdoms. B4Kids dealt with the 4 kingdoms of the domain Eukarya while Brainpop refered to the domains Bacteria and Archaea as kingdoms. We'll do a bit more research but if say, any blogging biologist happens by maybe he could enlighten us a bit.

Anyhow, it was a blast and I'd reccomend the site and it's sister sites to any homeschooler who's on the hunt for some organized approach for science. A little googling the night before and it's easy to come up with related experiments, worksheets, activities, videos, etc for the next day. I'll post related material we use as we go on and maybe collect the whole shebang if anyone is interested.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Science Actually Done

So we did our math and grammar stuff in the morning and in the afternoon tried what I mentioned in the last bit of my last post.

We started at Scientific Studies at Rader's Biology 4 Kids and read the first page. At the end of that page is a little quiz to take. We did it and Catherine did really well, getting almost every correct. On to the next page on reasoning. When we were finished that page I grabbed the worksheets I printed from The Biology Corner and we got to work. The Penny Lab experiment went really well and provoked a lot of discussion about scientific method, reasoning and even math (we had to average out the numbers from 5 different trials).

When we got to the next worksheet, The Martian and the Car, we had to do a little googling. the sheet involves making points for both why a car is a living being and why it isn't. We had to learn what the characteristics of living things are so we found this page. After we found that we went off on a tangent trying to list things that displayed a characteristic or two of living things but weren't.

Tommorrow we'll review logic with this page. Catherine's been doing logic puzzles for the last week so although I expect her to forget some of the big words I do think she'll get the gist of the page. Then on to Taxonomy and I'm not sure how or if I'll supplement it but I'll be up early enough tommorrow to figure that up.


Is there any subject that's more frakking frustrating then science for the homeschooler who wants to take a secular approach? The only grade school curriculum I've been able to find is the Singapore, "My Pals are Here," book. Some, like Real Science 4 Kids and Noeo leave discussion of creation and evolution to the parents but that seems like a fundamentally dishonest stance to take. Are they a science text or not? If so, they have a duty to present evolution.

So, like a lot of secular and none-delusional christians I'm left to hobble something together on my own.

Mostly, our approach is rather random and a bit chaotic. That's not completely bad. We touch on different things that interest the kids and generally have a good time. However, my daughter has said a few times that she would like a more structured approach. Also, when we don't have an underlying structure then a rational, detailed approach to observation and experimenting sort of falls by the wayside.

Now, I'm learning. I'm trying to build our own structure under the work we do, plan out units rather then random activities but jeez louise, it could already be done and I could just be buying it.

Anyhow. I have a plan. I think. Sort of. Rader's Biology 4 Kids has a really great site on biology that's nicely organized with links and quizzes. We'll use the site as our foundation and explore from there. We'll start with Scientific Studies. We'll read the first two pages on reasoning and then do this worksheet and experiment and probably this one as well. I'll follow it up with discussion so we can pick out the reasoning that went into both worksheets.

Okay. So that's one day down, right?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Harry's Day.

Yesterday was definately Harry's day. First there was the episode where I called him and he wouldn't answer. I finally found him on the top bunk of his bed with his head tucked under a pillow. I asked if he was okay but had to drag him out from under the pillow to get a reply. He was fine but embarrassed. He had a very pretty Barbie beside him and had been playing with her.

Poor little guy.

I then told him that I thought it was okay that he was playing with the Barbie and he was obviously relieved. We've never made a big deal about 'girl' or 'boy' toys but he's obviously picked up on the idea.

He rediscovered his male side when he spent a couple of hours playing Tonka Firefighter on Catherine's computer. The geek in me was beaming as he played. Harry's taken a lot longer to get comfortable with the computer then Catherine did and wasn't even interested in it for the longest time. Yesterday however he was giggling madly as he set off fireworks and cheering as he put out forest fires.

Free Music Software

I've been checking out a site called 'Giveaway of the Day' for a couple of weeks now and they always offer a free game and a free piece of software. Sometimes the software's nothing but screensaver but occasionally it's sort of neat. Today's is MagicScore School 5.0. here's a description...

MagicScore School 5.0 is a notation software for music aficionados, students, teachers, schools and colleges. The program offers people interested in music a variety of notation options – input, editing, printing, correctness check and much more.

MagicScore School, as the name implies, has been specially created for folks who are learning music, but professional musicians can use it as well.

Notes can be entered manually, copied from another source, added through the virtual piano, MIDI keyboard or synthesizer.

MagicScore School is also capable of reading notes from MIDI and Karaoke files, as well as recording MIDI and Karaoke files.

The program is also capable of printing blank staff notation sheets.

The program also supports Music XML format.

Sounds sort of cool. The only catch is that you have to download AND install the software today. I missed out on a nice program for finding duplicate files last week because I downloaded it and then forgot to install.

I'll stick a link in the sidebar (under 'Geek Stuff').

Friday, April 13, 2007

One More Good Thing...

...And I know that most of the people who check out this blog won't give a rat's ass but Gail Simone is writing Wonder Woman!!!!

Gail Simone is one of the best comic book writers out there. Period. She does drama well, knows her characters and is funnier then just about any any writer out there.

A women writing Wonder Woman...And THIS woman writing Wonder Woman. *sigh*

I have to say, I'm just in comic book geek heaven this week!

Two Good Things.

It's been such a good week so far.

Early in the week I received an offer to work in a medium I love on a couple of subjects that I think are fantastic with a person I have a lot of respect for. Whoo hoo! If I could turn cartwheels around our living room, I would be!

Wednesday I took Catherine to Brownies and there, coming out of the church, was the mom I'd been waiting to talk to for months. She's a homeschooler too and since our daughters are the same age and know each other through Brownies I thought we could get together. I introduced myself and mentioned I homeschooled.

And then I told her whose mom I was and she told me whose mom she was.

It turned out that her daughter was the girl Catherine always came home talking about. They're already friends and the friendship started, Catherine later told me, when she first started Brownies and was feeling a little shy. The other girl was the one child who walked up to Catherine and made her feel welcome.

I also learned the Catherine was the one Brownie the other girl kept talking about because, "She knows everything I know mom!"

The two homeschooled girls found each other and Catherine finally has a friend who not only shares interests and homeschooling but is just a drive away.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

God as the Big Meanie.

Today there was some Math Mammoth and some Easy Grammar. Catherine breezed through them both with no difficulty. She wanted to get back to the Bible Activity book, not so much for the stories but because it really does have a nice collection of puzzles and such considering it was less than a twoonie.

We are up to the Patriarchs in the book. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob get condensed into a two paragraph summary. I read the summary, she did the activities and the next step will be me reading the stories to her. I've sort of been dreading it a little bit as the story of Abraham dragging Isaac up to the mountain to cut his little heart out is sort of the most glaring, "God as Evil Asshole," moment in the OT.

Me? I love the story. It's one of my favourites. It has one of the most gut-wrenching plot devices a piece of fiction can have (parent must kill child. Heck, it's such a good hook the bible uses it at least twice in the OT and yet again in the NT!) and it just doesn't leave my head. There's so much to turn over, question and think about. And then I read Kierkegaard's 'Fear and Trembling' and the story was made all the richer.

God's still a mean old bastard in the story however. Well, he's pretty much a mean old bastard throughout the OT and while I find a lot in the OT relating to his grace and love I can't deny that I understand how some read it and see him as nothing but that mean old bastard. And now I have to read the Abraham and Isaac story to Catherine and I know she's going to have a few choice words to say about God's behaviour.

I imagine we'll have to talk a bit about child sacrifice and about what this portrait of God tells us about the ancient Hebrews and how they viewed God. I'll have some explaining to do as well since this is part of the religious tradition that I've embraced. It's going to be interesting.

It'll have to wait a little bit though. Tonight is the Brownie Cult meeting and after that a fierce, 'On the Bubble,' (cheap Trouble! Knockoff) tournament is on the schedule. I'd also like to wait until I can borrow a good plain english bible. My bible is the Oxford Annotated NRSV with Appocrypha. A stellar study bible and mighty fine inducer of blunt trauma (as every good bible should be) but a complete and total bore when reading aloud to an 8 year old.

I Like Me! I Really Like Me!

I won!

"Best Blog featuring a picture of pansies, links to naked lady drawings and a posting of a dirty bible story video."

Of course I created the category and awarded it to myself. But damn, I thought I'd better get in on the action before some actual standards were thought up. Once there are actual standards I won't have a hope in hell.

UPDATE: Well knock me over with a limp snake-on-a-stick! I actually did win one!Chris awarded me one for "Special achievement in artwork involving bipedal fish". I'm honoured, shocked and awed. Thank you chris, thank you all. I think this calls for much drinking and celebrating, which brings up the question...Who's hosting the post-awards show party?

Sodom and Gomorrah (trust me)

I know that if I'm a pious christian I should get all anal and denounce this video. However, I'm a liberal christian and that means that although I am bound by all that's good and liberal in my faith to disagree with the theology of this video (The sin was the violation of hospitality, not buggery. Hey, I can get all anal after all. ) I am also fully capable of snickering at angels in hot pants, the clever use of bad, bad words and the "de-sexing stick."


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Stepping Out of the Closet

Anyone reading might notice that I added a couple of other blogs of mine to the sidebar. Feel free to check them out. I'm not simply an ultra-cool homeschooling, evolution-accepting christian mom, I'm also an aspiring comic book penciler and occasional commenter on comic book fangirl issues.

I didn't have the links there for awhile because I, um, maybe was a little embarrassed by my love for comic books. That and if I get ever get around to giving my MIL the link to this blog so she can check up on my kids' homeschooling she might very well click on the blog where all the pictures I've drawn of naked ladies are.

Anyway, it's out in the open now. Revealed. Click on them (or not) as you wish.

And the Schooly Stuff Goes On.

What a morning. See, we had the kids calming down in quiet time by 8pm and by 9pm both were tucked into bed. They woke up this morning with big smiles and pleasant attitudes. As did Mom and Dad since we were in bed at 10 and 11pm respectively. What sleep can do for a family!

So my wonderful children were kind and helpful. My daughter sat down at 9am and we took out a page up Key to Fractions that had given her trouble last week. It was on mixed fractions and after playing with pattern blocks for a few minutes she got what she'd been missing before and whipped through the work. Math Mammoth was done in record time with no whining and a lot of smiles. Next were a few logic puzzles that gave Catherine so easy a time I've resolved to hunt done some more dificult ones for her later.

And then we turned on the kids music station and danced around the living room. Much shaking of arms and wiggling of bums. The rest of the day so far has been me cleaning or reading blogs and the kids playing on their own.

I used to resist giving the kids a bedtime. I thought it would be better to let them discover their own rhythym and if it meant they went to bed at 11pm, so be it. They were listening to their bodies. Except bedties aren't just about individual children, they're a tool that keeps the family unit running smoothly. Some families can cope very well with with no bedtime but ours tends to split at the seams. Kids stay up late so I do as well. I wake up early to welcome my neice and am inevitably crabby due to the lack of sleep. Since the house isn't even 800 sq. feet (a cough on one side of the house wakes the sleeper on the other side) the kids wake up early as well and we're all barely dragging ourselves around the house for the day (I didn't mention the husband because he generally gets to run away to work). So bedtimes it is, for the kids AND for me.

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Schooly Stuff.

My third post for today but heck, I haven't posted for 4 or five days so it's okay. One post to explain my absence, one for the YouTube joy (oh yes, she has realized she can embed videos. She is happy.) and one for the actual and original purpose of this blog. So on to what we did today.

What we did was a little bit of Math Mammoth and then several pages from a dinosaur activity book. Nothing too challenging. Catherine also did some logic puzzles for the first time and really enjoyed them. I used to love doing them as a kid and she has just as much fun.

She then wandered away from the table and started drawing dinosaur pictures that are meant for a future exhibit on dinosaurs. I'm betting that my living room will be swimming in plastic dinos by the week's end.

Harry grabbed some paint and decided to paint one of his wooden trains blue. Thankfully, it was a generic Walmart one and not a Thomas engine. He then painted a lego truck and a dinky. The dinky was painted to become Lightning Storm McQueen. LSM is an alternate blue version of the lead character from 'Cars' created by whoever manufactures the toys because all the little boys already have a red version and need something else to ask their parents for. Thank goodness my little guy just grabs a dinky and a paintbrush.

Evolution for ID-iots

From now on I will no longer engage in will-to-live sapping debates with IDers. I will simply refer them to this video. Well, I'll probably make a few rude gestures at my monitor but I'll still refer them to this video.

So the creationists won't feel left out, here's what I'll refer them to...

Easter Break

Apologies to anyone who might be reading on a regular basis. My mom and dad came up Thursday afternoon and we decided to jump in their car and spend the easter weekend with them. The husband and dog joined us on Saturday and the easter bunny managed a visit Sunday morning. It was a pleasant stay but the usually two-hour trip back home clocked in at about 3 hours due to spontaneous-pee-producing moments where blowing snow made the car ahead of us, the road and everything else disapear. The husband was reduced to driving-by-hope a few times. We were also plowing through drifts that reduced the road to one lane at times. But we made it home.

This morning I'm researching monochrome laser printers. We have an inkjet all-in-one but on the last time we ran out of ink the cost for the black and colour cartridges almost reached $100. The bloody all-in-one only cost $60. I'll keep it for scanning and colour printing but pick up a cheap laser printer for the worksheets and such.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Damn Brownies

Catherine can pick a prepositional phrase out of a sentence and name the subject and verb of that sentence like nobody's business. Easy Grammar, with it's black and white pages and ever-present cloned turtle armies marching across worksheet pages, looks boring. But it's not. What it is is rigourous and thorough. So Catherine's doing well and heck, she ain't the only budding grammar diva in the house.

Grammar this morning obviously. Math Mammoth as well. Read a little bit on the tower of Babal in her bible activity book and we'll read the story from my Oxford NRSV tommorrow so we can get a better picture of it.

And then it was Brownie night tonight. I thought we were selling cookies door to door. The brownie pack leader or herd leader or whatever the title is missed giving Catherine the information last week and then I misheard the leader when she called me to let me know about the cookie sale. So I arrived expecting to have to flog cookies and found out that thankfully, I'd missed the whole thing as it was really yesterday. Phew! However, Catherine and I had a nice chat about the little brownie chant they have to do on the drive to the meeting. She hasn't memorized it yet and admitted she just faked the thing. I said I thought that was fine. Christian though I may be I squirmed when I heard the little girls promising to "love my God". On the copy we got later, 'faith' was written in in an attempt to be inclusive but, of course, not everybody believes. Some little girls don't have a faith. Nevermind the promise to, "Serve Queen and country," just so she can tape together construction paper easter baskets for an evening.

I'm not entirely comfortable with the brownies but Catherine enjoys it and has friends there. We can always talk about the icky cultish bits afterowrds.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Dinosaur Hunt

After math and after debating whether animals could make concsious choices about good and evil (we read the second Genesis myth last night)Catherine pulled out her really big dinosaur book. It's The Ultimate Book of Dinosaurs and of all our dinosaur books it's been the one that we've gone back to over and over again. She sat down on the couch and started working at reading huge dinosaur names and doing quite a good job at it. After awhile she decided that she was an Ornithomimus and that Harry and her niece Maddie were her babies.

Now of course a mother dinosaur needs to teach her babies to hunt but it's still a little disturbing to see your 8 year old hurl a stuffed rabbit across the kitchen and scream at your son and neice to, "Hunt the rabbit! Kill it! KILL IT!" Even more disturbing is to see that little, delicate 3 year old neice barrel towards the stuffed bunny on all fours, grab it in her mouth and shake it to kill it.

Things got a little gentler when Catherine built them a nest. I mean, yes, occasionally a pterodactactyl circled overhead and Catherine had to toss a blanket over them, whisper to them to be quiet and sheild them with her body but that's reasonable. She certainly doesn't have to much of a Bambi sensibility when it comes to playing animals.

The neice has gone home, Harry is watching Winnie the Pooh and Catherine and the husband are out swimming. I think it is the time for some chocolate mint ice cream.

I'm Zoe!

I hate cutesy quizes that determine what breed of cat or colour of dryer lint you are but over at O'Donnell Web he has a link to the, "What Firefly Character Are You?" test. Who could resist that one?

I am ecstatic to announce that I am Zoe Washburne, war vet and second-in-command to Captain Mal.

I love the character and I adore Gine Torres who should be the first and last choice for Wonder Woman if they ever get around to casting the damn movie.

I have to admit, there's one other quiz I like. It's the original Geek test and by it's account I'm a Major Geek.